Valencia fans jailed for Vinícius Jr. racist abuse


Three fans have been sentenced to eight months in prison and banned from stadiums for two years over the racist abuse of Vinícius Júnior at Mestalla in May 2023.

The incident — which took place during Real Madrid’s 1-0 LaLiga defeat to Valencia — sparked uproar worldwide, after the Brazil star identified an individual in the crowd who had been racially abusing him, causing the game to be suspended.

Vinícius later hit out at Spanish authorities’ handling of the issue, saying “racism is normal in LaLiga,” while the league called for greater powers to deal with the problem.

On Monday, three fans were found guilty of a crime against moral integrity — aggravated by racially motivated discrimination — under article 173.1 of Spain’s Criminal Code.

They were sentenced to an initial 12 months in prison, reduced by 1⁄3 to eight months, under a principle which sees reduced punishments for defendants who accept criminal responsibility.

They also received a three-year stadium ban, reduced to two years for the same reason, and will have to pay costs.

“Many people asked me to ignore it, others said that my fight was in vain and that I should just ‘play football’,” Vinícius said in a post on X.

“But, as I’ve always said, I’m not a victim of racism. I am an executioner of racists. This first criminal conviction in Spanish history is not for me. It’s for all black people.

“Let the other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I’ll be here to call them out. Thank you to LaLiga and Real Madrid for helping to bring about this historic condemnation. There’s more to come.”

Lawyers for the defendants requested on Monday that their prison sentences be suspended — a common practice in Spain for sentences under two years — and prosecutors did not object.

The judge will rule on that request at a later date.

LaLiga praised the guilty verdict, saying it was the first of its kind in Spain.

“This ruling is great news regarding the fight against racism in Spain,” LaLiga president Javier Tebas said. “It redresses the wrong suffered by Vinícius Júnior and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse. LaLiga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them.”

“I understand that there may be some frustration at the length of time it takes for these sentences to be handed down, but this shows that Spain is a country that guarantees judicial integrity. LaLiga can only respect the pace of justice, and once again demand that Spanish legislation evolves so that LaLiga has sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism.”

In a statement on Monday, Real Madrid said it would continue to work to eliminate racism.

“The three accused have accepted their criminal responsibility and have made public a letter of apology addressed to Vinícius Júnior, Real Madrid C.F. and other people who felt denigrated and offended by their behavior,” the statement read.

“This is the first conviction for acts of this nature handed down by criminal courts and tribunals.

Real Madrid, which participated in this prosecution together with Vinícius Júnior, will continue working to protect the values of our club and eradicate any racist behavior in the world of football and sport.



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